Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFGracillariidae Members: 10 NC Records

Caloptilia superbifrontella (Clemens, 1860) - No Common Name

Superfamily: Gracillarioidea Family: GracillariidaeSubfamily: GracillariinaeTribe: [Gracillariini]P3 Number: 330164.00 MONA Number: 641.00
Comments: Caloptilia is a large genus with nearly 300 described species; 64 species have been described in North America north of Mexico. The larvae begin as leaf-mining sap-feeders, but the latter instars usually exit the mines and feed within a conical roll that begins at the leaf apex or at the tip of a leaf lobe.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Chambers, 1860.Technical Description, Immature Stages: Chambers, 1860.                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The upper head and forewings have a light reddish-violet ground color. The remainder of the forewing consists of a pale yellow streak on the inner margin at the base, and a conspicuous pale yellow costal patch that extends from about one-quarter of the basal region to near the apex. The patch is widest near the median area and narrows posteriorly. The pale yellow streak at the base of the wings often continues to the thorax and head. Unlike many Caloptilia, this species lacks a row of minute dark dots along the costal margin within the yellow costal patch. The cilia are dark fuscous with two darker bands usually present. The femur and tibia of the front and middle leg are dark brown and contrast with the white tarsi below. Dark marks near the tarsal joints are either absent or weakly developed, and the rear leg is pale straw to whitish. The palps are whitish to pale yellow with dark tips. Caloptilia azaleella is somewhat similar but typically has conspicuous black spots near the tarsal joints, a row of minute dark dots along the costal margin, and lacks the yellow streak at the base of the forewing.
Wingspan: 11-13 mm (Covell (1984).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larva initially produces a short, linear, epidermal mine on the underside of the leaf. This becomes a small blotch in the angle between the midrib and a side vein, with all of the parenchyma consumed. The lower epidermis may become wrinkled, but the mine remains flat (Eiseman, 2019). The larva eventually abandons the blotch and constructs a leaf roll for feeding.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: This species occurs from southern Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and adjoining areas of the northeastern US southward to North Carolina and vicinity. Populations in North Carolina may be disjunct from the main range that occurs to the north. Our official records for North Carolina are from the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. A specimen from Buncombe Co. (iNaturalist) appears to be this species.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Adults oviposit on Witch Hazel, which occurs statewide in a variety of forested settings that range from moderately dry to mesic conditions. Examples include oak-hickory forests, mesic mixed hardwoods, pine-hardwoods, and floodplain forests.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae feed on Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). Tracy Feldman found mines that resemble those of this species on Coastal Witch-alder (Fothergilla gardenii) in North Carolina (Eiseman, 2019), which is also a member of the family Hamamelidaceae. Further observations and the rearing of adults would be helpful in confirming the use of Fothergilla in North Carolina.
Observation Methods: Adults are attracted to UV-lights. Local population can be easily documented by searching for leaf rolls on Witch-hazel and Fothergilla. This is the only leaf-rolling species that feeds on these host plants.
See also Habitat Account for General Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SU
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.

 Photo Gallery for Caloptilia superbifrontella - No common name

Photos: 8

Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-06-08
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2021-04-07
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2020-07-15
Polk Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2020-03-26
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2019-09-30
Onslow Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2015-08-26
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2015-08-26
Warren Co.
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2015-08-26
Warren Co.